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Home > The Secret of Ella and Micha (The Secret #1)(6)

The Secret of Ella and Micha (The Secret #1)(6)
Author: Jessica Sorensen

I need a drink, even though I haven't had a drop of alcohol in eight months. The day Ella took off, with no note or a good-bye, I had gone up to the cove, got drunk, and took all my anger out on Grantford Davis' face. The cops showed up and I got busted for being under the influence and for assault. I'm still on probation for it and I had to go to anger management classes for a while. I've been really good about keeping my crap together, but five minutes after Ella shows up and I'm about to throw it away.

I head to the kitchen, scoop up a beer from the ice chest, and settle on the couch between a blonde and a brunette.

The blonde one giggles. "Oh my God, is the bad boy Micha finally back?"

I can't remember her name, but I play along. "I sure am, baby."

Then I swig my beer back and bury my pain, along with Ella. She's the only girl that's ever been able to get me this upset. The only girl that's never wanted me.

Chapter 3

Ella

"I take it that's Micha?" Lila wanders around my kitchen as she tightens a loose ribbon on the waist of her floral dress. "He's even cuter than in the picture."

"Yep, that would be Micha." I kick a box across the stained linoleum floor and flip the light on. It looks the same; seventies themed colors, wicker chairs around the glass table, and yellow and brown countertops.

"So just your dad lives here?" Lila circles the small kitchen and her gaze lingers on the countertop next to the kitchen sink where empty bottles are lining the wall.

"Yeah. My older brother moved out as soon as he graduated." I adjust the handle of my bag and head for the stairway. The house smells like rotten food and smoke. In the living room, the aged plaid sofa is vacant, and the ash tray on the coffee table is spilling over with cigarette butts. The television is on so I shut it off.

"So where's your dad?" Lila wonders as we climb up the stairs.

"I'm not sure," I avoid the truth, because he's probably at the bar.

"Okay, where's your mom?" she probes. "You never told me where she lives."

Lila doesn't know much about me and it's how I want it. Leaving her in the dark, about my mom, my brother - everyone in this aspect of my life - has allowed me to transform into someone who doesn't have to deal with my problems.

"My dad works nights," I make up a story. "And my mom moved out quite a while ago. She lives up on Cherry hill."

She leans forward to study a portrait of my mother displayed on the wall; the same auburn hair, pale skin, and green eyes as me. Her smile was just as fake as mine, too. "Is this your mom?" She asks and I nod. "She looks just like you."

My chest tightens and I quickly trot to the top of the stairway. At the end of the hall, the bathroom door is wide open. The corner of the porcelain tub and the stain on the tile floor is in my line of vision. My heart constricts tighter as the memories flood me. I'm suffocating with panic.

"Baby girl," she said. "I'm going to go take a nap, just for a little while. I'll be back in just a bit."

My knees tremble as I shut the door. My chest opens up and oxygen flows through my lungs again.

"So where does your brother live?" Lila peers inside my brother's room full of drums, guitar picks, CDs, and records. There's a bunch of band posters taped to the wall and a guitar up on a mount.

"I think in Chicago."

"You think?"

I shrug. "We don't have the best relationship.

She nods, like she understands. "So is he in a band?"

"I'm not sure if he's still in one now. I'm guessing since his stuff's here, probably not," I say. "He only played because he was friends with Micha and he's in a band. Or was. I have no idea what he does anymore."

"Ella, did you lose touch with everyone in your life?" Lila accuses, tucking the pillow under her arm.

Her scrutiny makes me uncomfortable. Avoiding confrontation, I turn on my bedroom light and shudder at the sight. It's like a museum of my past. Sheets of my artwork are tacked to the walls, trimmed with a black skeleton border Micha put up when we were twelve to make my room more "manly." A collection of guitar picks line the far dresser and there is a pile of my boots in the corner. My bed is made with the same purple comforter and there's a plate with a half-eaten cookie on it, which is growing mold.

I toss the cookie into the trash. Hasn't my dad been in here since I left?

Lila picks up a guitar and plops down on the bed. "I didn't know you played." She positions the guitar on her lap and strums the strings. "I always wanted to learn how to play, but my mom would never let me take lessons. You should teach me."

"I don't play." I drop my bag on the floor. "That's Micha's guitar. His initials are on the back."

She turns it over and looks at the initials. "So the hot guy from next door is also a musician. God, I'm about to swoon."

"No swooning over anyone in this neighborhood," I advise. "And since when are you into musicians? I have never, until today, heard you say anything about liking guys who can play the guitar."

"Since they look like him." She points over her shoulder toward Micha's house, which is visible through the window of my room. "That boy is dripping with sexiness."

Jealousy growls in my chest and I mentally whisper for it to shut up. I pick up a photo of my mom and me at the zoo when I was six. We're happy, smiling, and the sun is bright against our squinting eyes. It rips at my heart and I let the photo fall back onto the desk. "There's a trundle under the bed that you can sleep on if you want."

"Sounds good." She slides the guitar off her lap and goes over to the window, drawing the curtain back. "Maybe we should go to the party. It looks kind of fun."

I gather my hair away from my eyes before dragging the trundle out from under the bed. "No offense, Lila, but I don't think you can handle one of Micha's parties. Things can get a little bit crazy."

She narrows her eyes at me, insulted. "I can handle parties. It's you that never wanted to go to any of them. And the one's that I did talk you into going to, you just stood in the corner, drinking water and sulking."

I flop down on the bed with my arms and legs slack over the edges. "That party is nothing like a college frat party. They're the kind of parties you wake up from the next day on a park bench with no shoes on and a tattoo on your back, with no recollection of what happened the night before."

"Oh my God, is that how you got that tattoo on your back - the one you refuse to tell me what it means." She lies on the bed next to me and we stare at the Chevelle poster on my ceiling.

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